I decided to wait a day before I wrote this blog because I didn’t want my emotions on the night to sway my opinion on what was largely another successful season for the Geelong Cats.
While the utterly disgraceful performance that the Cats tossed up on Friday night in the Preliminary final lives fresh in my memory. The very fact that for a third year in a row we’ve gotten to the Preliminary final has to be considered a success.
Would it have been nice to have been watching the boys on the final Saturday of the year? Yes, does it hurt that ill be watching the Demons V Bulldogs in that game? Absolutely, but I don’t want the disappointment from Friday to shadow what in my mind has been 3 years of dominance from Geelong Cats.
When you consider how the 1st half of our first game of the season went, down 73-35, absolutely being blown out by the Crows who would end up finishing 15th on the season. A good not great comeback in the 2nd half to see us go down 103-91 in the end. Not a great start but the 2nd half was definitely a positive sign they’d shaken of the off-season rust. And keep in mind, big off season recruit Jeremy Cameron wasn’t playing in this game, he wasn’t available until the round 6, 97 point beat down of the West Coast Eagles, easily the best win of the season.
The early season from was a bit inconsistent. Winning a couple then coping a loss, before the round 7 two-point loss to the Swans seemingly kick started the Cats season. They went on to rattle off 6 wins in a row with big wins against now Grand Finalists the Western Bulldogs and the other beaten Pre-Lim finalists Port Adelaide.
Through this impressive run that saw the cats win 11 out of the 12 games after that loss to Sydney, the usual rotation policy employed by the Cats management was on show, but while in the past it may lead to an inconsistent run of form, resting the big names like Selwood, Dangerfield, Rohan and Stewart for alternate games this year proved to be huge. A lot of credit has to go to the younger players who stepped up during this period like Gryan Miers, Zac Guthrie, Brad Close and Brandan Parfitt was a huge boost to Geelongs form through this period.
For me, one of the biggest stand out performer for this season has to be Esava Ratugolea. Last season he had a tough go of it, and got a lot of flack from the fanbase, myself included, to the point where his Cats teammates stepped up to defend him. While when you look at his season on paper his improvement wasn’t there but for me on the eye test, he seemed to be the one who stepped up in the big moments, Kicked the important goals at the right time. Got in the ruck when Stanley, Hawkins and Blicavs needed the break, and made the intercept mark in defence to ease the pressure. If Esava ever reads this, and let’s be honest he may never, I want him to know that I was wrong about him, his performances this season were amazing, and I want him in our Guernsey for the long haul, you are one of us now.
The loss on the final day of the regular season to the Demons after getting out to a 42-point lead costing us the Minor Premiership was hard to take and the loss in week 1 of the finals was concerning. The 2nd half against the Giants in the semi final gave me hope that we had the ability to not only get to another Grand Final, but this year go one better and collect another Geelong Flag. Sadly, as we all saw on Friday, despite kicking the 1st goal of the game, Melbourne’s relentless pressure and kicking accuracy, combined with our inability to control the game and play “Geelong Ball” saw us suffer what has to be the worse finals loss I’ve ever seen as a Cats fan.
As I already look to next season, and my hope for the Cats to deliver Patty a premiership before he retires. I really think that next season may be our last chance to do so. Our window for those boys, Patty, Selwood and Hawkins is closing fast. We have a good stable of you and middle-aged guys in the squad now or emerging which is awesome, the way Scotty has developed the roster is for long term success not a one or two season burst, which is how we do things, dynasty not a splash in the pan thing. I just don’t think Patty has more than one maybe two good seasons left in him, he is 31 after all.
As we look back on a season that now may feel like a failure having gotten so close to another premiership only to fall short. As a fanbase of the greatest team of all, we have to step back and realise how lucky we are to consistently be playing finals football, while some teams haven’t played finals football in near 10 years in Carltons case, or in the case of the Suns, never played finals football (yes, I know they’ve only been around since 2011) but the point still remains.
While now, it hurts that our seasons over, again without a Premiership. We had a great year, yet again and I am proud of how hard the boys fought all year for that Guernsey, the Club and the fans.
And let’s face it, if you win a Grand Finals and its not at the MCG, does it really count? Not in my book.